Heart monitors due in Burlington area ambulances

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(Host) Ambulances in the region around Burlington will soon be outfitted with heart monitoring devices that doctors say may help to save lives.

Ambulances operated by 13 rescue and fire companies have been equipped with "electrocardiogram" devices that will be tied to Fletcher Allen Health Care through cell phones or radios.

Doctor Steve Leffler is head of the emergency department at Fletcher Allen. He says the constant contact between the ambulance crew and medical staff at the hospital will make a difference.

(Leffler) "When the patient arrives, we’ll have the team waiting for them. So if someone’s having a heart attack, before they even arrive at the hospital, I can alert the Cath-lab team and have the emergency department waiting for the patient to arrive. So it’ll save minutes, 15 minutes sometimes for some of these patients in terms of getting things ready to go before they even get here."

(Host) Leffler says saving even those few minutes can sometimes be all the difference that’s needed in saving a patient’s life.

The technology will be available throughout Chittenden County and in limited areas of Addison, Grand Isle and Lamoille counties.

Leffler says he hopes it can be expanded.

(Leffler) "We’re very optimistic that other districts can use the system that we’ve used to implement this and we’ll be able to bring it to other areas in the state."

(Host) It cost $200,000 to buy 16 electrocardiogram devices for ambulances. The Argosy Foundation of Milwaukee contributed the bulk of that money.

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